Google has created a task force to prevent Android users from downloading the hit game Fortnite outside of its Google Play Store, Epic Games said in an unamended court filing released Monday.
According to legal filings, Google's actions helped it generate game revenue, but violated the idea that Android is an "open" platform.
Epic has already sued Google and Apple, accusing them of operating a monopoly by imposing a 30 percent fee on in-app purchases. Epic has lost most of its battles with Apple, but has won its battles to get developers to offer users other payment options. Both sides appealed against the result.
However, the case against Google is more complicated because Android app developers do not have to distribute their apps through the Play Store, whereas Apple's app Store is the only place its users can download apps.
In its court filing, Epic argued that users' ability to "side-download" an app from a third-party store or directly from the web was more theoretical than real.
According to the unredacted court document, When Fortnite, one of the world's most popular games, launched a direct download feature in August 2018, offering distribution through Samsung's Galaxy Store, Google feared the momentum could spread more widely. So Google launched a campaign to try to prevent users from choosing a download option other than the Play Store.
"Despite Google's public claims that Android is an 'open' platform, when Google faces serious challenges from developers trying to launch popular apps outside of the Google Play app Store, Google executives take urgent steps to maintain Google's monopoly over Android app distribution," Epic said in the filing.
Those measures included the creation of a "Fortnite task force," the document said, citing internal Google emails. In August 2018, the working group will meet daily to address challenges from Epic.
The task force found a theoretical flaw in the Fortnite installation program. Epic claims that Google is using this excuse to intimidate users into not downloading Fortnite. At the same time, Google began deploying a media campaign to publish stories about the problem and blog posts calling it "an extremely serious security vulnerability," although internally Google said it was "not a serious (or even a very high risk) vulnerability."
Epic cited an internal email from Google's Head of Android security, who said that Google's warning to its users was "inappropriate and less scary than the vulnerabilities we've seen from many other developers."
Google responded in a statement, saying: "Epic's release of Fortnite for Android contains a security vulnerability that could compromise consumer data. Security is our top priority, so we will of course take steps to alert users to this security vulnerability in accordance with our application security policy. We will continue to fight Epic in court."
Epic first filed the complaint last August, and Google's counterclaim alleges Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement.
A trial date is set for October 17 next year.